Give Brock Osweiler credit.
Coming off the bench cold, having likely taken very few practice reps through the week, and leading your team to victory is an incredibly tough thing to do. But that's exactly what Osweiler did for the Denver Broncos against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night in a 25-13 victory for the visiting team in Indy.
Broncos starter Trevor Siemian was of the first quarter. At the time, Denver was trailing 7-0 and getting ready to kick a field goal. Brandon McManus missed that kick, and after the teams traded punts, the Colts extended their lead to 10-0.
All Osweiler did after that was lead the Broncos on a 25-3 run, including scores on four of their next five drives. Three of those drives lasted nine plays or more, and a 16-play, 62-yard drive that took 9:40 off the clock in the fourth quarter essentially iced the game by putting the Broncos up by 12 points with just over five minutes left in the game.
Osweiler wasn't perfect, but he was pretty damn close. He ran for the Broncos' first touchdown, and he completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two more scores -- both of which came on damn near perfect throws. (That's a 147.7 passer rating. From Brock Osweiler!)
The first was a corner route to Cody Latimer, who had himself one of the better games of his career (3-60-1) after earning himself more snaps by throwing some great blocks in the run game.
The second touchdown toss was a beautifully thrown ball over the middle of the field, one that Osweiler lofted over the outstretched arms of a safety and into the waiting hands of Jeff Heuerman. Heuerman hit a defensive back with a stiff-arm shortly after hauling it in, then powered his way to the end zone.
Osweiler got plenty of help, of course.
The Broncos got an excellent game from C.J. Anderson, who took his 29 carries for 159 yards. The Denver defense also showed why it's still an elite unit despite ranking 24th in points allowed coming into the game. No team in football had allowed fewer yards than the Broncos coming in, and Vance Joseph's squad held Jacoby Brissett and company down all night after allowing them to march down the field with a seven-play, 50-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession. The Colts totaled a paltry 178 yards on 46 plays after that.
Here are a few more things to know about Denver's win ...
The ageless Frank Gore is amazing
Frank Gore is 34 years old. Somehow, the man just keeps churning out 1,000-yard seasons. By totaling more than 60 yards on Thursday night, Gore passed 1,000 total yards for the 12th straight year.
Moving from 11 to 12 such consecutive seasons pushed Gore ahead of all-time greats Marshall Faulk and Jerry Rice.
A 13th consecutive 1,000-yard season seems wildly unlikely at this point, but people have been predicting a drop-off for Gore for years and it still hasn't really happened. He hasn't even missed a game since 2010! And this is a guy that tore his ACL in college -- twice. His former University of Miami running back teammates, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee, had nine- and 10-year careers. Gore is in his 13th season. He's incredible.
Siemian gets picked, then gets injured
Not the best night for Broncos starter Trevor Siemian. He was on the field for 19 plays. He completed 5 of 9 passes for 67 yards, but one of his incompletions was a straight up terrible interception that stood almost no chance of being caught. The pick was his 14th of the season, second most in the league behind only DeShone Kizer.
That was Trevor Siemian's 14th interception of the season, tied for 2nd-most in the NFL.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 15, 2017
He's been picked off on the opening drive in 2 of his last 3 games.
Siemian put together what looked like a scoring drive on the Broncos' second possession of the game, but a delay of game penalty turned a 34-yard field goal attempt into a 39-yarder, and Brandon McManus pushed the attempt wide. Worse yet, Siemian was seen holding him arm after taking a big hit on a sack before the field goal attempt, and he was soon carted off the field with what the team called a left shoulder injury.
Broncos QB Trevor Siemian taking a ride on the cart (sitting up in the front, not strapped down in the back) and going back to the locker room after a big hit by Mingo.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) December 15, 2017
The left shoulder is the one Siemian had surgically repaired in January.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 15, 2017
Broncos QB Trevor Siemian has been ruled out for the game with a left shoulder injury.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) December 15, 2017
With Paxton Lynch sitting out due to an injury of his own, Osweiler was the only quarterback remaining for the Broncos. As mentioned above, he performed quite admirably.
Backup Colts tight end Brandon Williams sustained while working as a blocker on a second-quarter punt. Williams got a helmet-to-helmet hit from a rusher while engaged in a block, and he crumpled to the ground. He remained on the turf for over 10 minutes and was eventually carted off on a stretcher.
Williams did move his hands while being placed on the cart, to the cheers of the Indianapolis crowd. He was placed on the backboard for precautionary reasons, according to the team. The entire Colts roster came out onto the field to show its support while Williams was being removed from the field and taken to an area hospital.
Williams was diagnosed with spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine) while in college at Oregon and was told by his coach that he could no longer play football.
From a 2014 Oregonian story on Brandon Williams: "He always dreamed he would be a professional football player, but doctors at the University of Oregon abruptly ended his career because of what they believed was a dangerous spinal condition."— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 15, 2017
He eventually made a switch over to basketball, but in 2013 had another MRI of his neck and it was discovered that he could play football again. He has bounced around the league over the past several seasons, making appearances for the Panthers, Dolphins and Seahawks before landing in Indianapolis.
As you might have noticed, this game was contested between two teams wearing color-blocked uniforms. That's right. Thursday night is Color Rush night. The Colts wore their standard blue jerseys but paired them with blue pants rather than their typical whites. It was the first time they've ever done that.
The Broncos, meanwhile broke out a sweet-looking orange jersey with a special throwback decal on the helmet.
As you can see, they looked pretty excellent.
It's time for an update on injured Colts quarterback Andrew Luck!
Luck has been out since offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder. The Colts played it as though he would eventually get on the field at some point this season, but it never happened. Theyin early November, and he's since to seek treatment on his shoulder.
"He's doing great," Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. "He's doing well. [We're] disappointed obviously it's taken as long as it's taken. You know, medicine and the way it goes. But there hasn't been any unusual setback. We didn't find out anything ominous, something we didn't know about or anything like that. It's just taken time for him to go through his whole aspect of rehabbing and progressing and working through the soreness."
It sounds like Luck will be ready for the offseason program, but we've been told he'll be ready for something before, only to have it not turn out that way. For his sake and for that of football fans, let's hope it goes differently this time around.
The 3-11 Colts, now losers of five straight, will travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in a Saturday afternoon game (4:30 p.m. ET) next week. The 5-9 Broncos, meanwhile, will take their two-game winning streak to Washington as part of the league's 12-game Christmas Eve slate. That game starts at 1 p.m. ET.